Preliminary results for investigating time-dependent behaviour within the block cave mining system using virtual reality scientific visualisation

J. D. Tibbett, F. T. Suorineni, B. K. Hebblewhite

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Block caving is an underground mining method for the profitable extraction of massive, lowgrade orebodies. Lately, it has become the mining method of choice, for many mining companies, because of depleted high-grade orebodies, and declining metal market prices. Block cave mining, however, still faces several challenges. Lack of access to the cave remains a major issue in understanding the rockmass response to mining for method optimisation. Improving our understanding of the rockmass response to caving will lead to safer and more productive operations. Combining large datasets from multiple sources with virtual reality scientific visualisation (VRSV) is a viable alternative to understanding complex cave behaviour without access to the cave. This is achieved using immersive environments with the ability to view complex multi-dimensional data (beyond 3D) graphically. VRSV offers a unique platform where it becomes possible to immerse the multi-disciplinary experts, and/or management team, in a virtual mine environment for quick decision making and fast resolution to conflicting conclusions. The underground mining system is complex due to multiple interrelating factors such as geology, excavation geometries, stress and time. Block caving is even more complex than most underground mining methods due to the network of tunnels required, and the use of induced stress, among others. As a consequence of the complexity in the block caving environment, it is vital that the mining system is analysed holistically, as a system, rather than optimizing individual factors one at a time. This paper presents a customised software module developed for use in the Advanced Visualisation Interactive Environment (AVIE) at The University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia, to enable VRSV investigation into block cave mining systems (BCMS). This approach has the potential to provide a better understanding of the effect of time in in rock engineering, which has proven to be an important factor in hard rock mines (Ma & Daemen, 2006; Malan et al., 1997; Suorineni, 2010) but never validated. This work back analyses the early undercutting phase of a case study block caving operation with the view to understanding time/sequence effects. There is evidence that heterogeneous rockmass time-dependent behaviour governs the seismic response of the rockmass following undercut developments.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication13th ISRM International Congress of Rock Mechanics
Editors Hassani, Hadjigeorgiou, Archibald
PublisherInternational Society for Rock Mechanics
ISBN (Electronic)9781926872254
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes
Event13th ISRM International Congress of Rock Mechanics 2015 - Montreal, Canada
Duration: May 10 2015May 13 2015

Publication series

Name13th ISRM International Congress of Rock Mechanics
Volume2015- MAY


Conference13th ISRM International Congress of Rock Mechanics 2015


  • Block caving
  • Large multiple source data multidimensional data
  • Scientific visualisation
  • Time-dependency
  • Virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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